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Old 07-25-2014, 12:11 AM   #201
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Location: Danville, California
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Year: 1988
Coachwork: Crown
Chassis: Supercoach
Engine: DD6-71T
Rated Cap: 78
Re: Journey Begins - 1988 Crown Conversion

TRUNK AREA RUBBER FLOORING COMPLETED
We have finished putting the industrial strength rubber flooring in the back trunk of the bus. Next step is putting LED lighting in the trunk. Pictures are below.

This picture shows the trunk without the flooring on the left side raised area of the trunk. We were trying to figure out what to do with it.


The rubber flooring now installed in the shelf area of the trunk.
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Old 07-25-2014, 12:13 AM   #202
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Re: Journey Begins - 1988 Crown Conversion

DRIVER AREA FLOORING
We completed the finish work around the driver's area flooring today. Below is the picture with the pedals and steering column reattached and the trim pieces installed.
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Old 07-25-2014, 12:17 AM   #203
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Re: Journey Begins - 1988 Crown Conversion

STEP WELL FLOORING AND TRIM FINISHED
The industrial rubber flooring that we picked up at Home Depot's website is turning out pretty great. The trim work around the flooring is now completed.





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Old 07-26-2014, 12:09 AM   #204
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Re: Journey Begins - 1988 Crown Conversion

I read your build thread from start to finish. I kept saying "wow" the whole time. So well done! I had to create an account on Skoolie just so I could tell you that. I'm looking forward to seeing more of your build out. Your thread has been very educational.

Kind Regards,
Wolfy
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Old 07-27-2014, 02:10 AM   #205
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Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Danville, California
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Year: 1988
Coachwork: Crown
Chassis: Supercoach
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Re: Journey Begins - 1988 Crown Conversion

Hi Wolfy,

First, welcome to the world of skoolies. We are a fun and passionate bunch that love our buses and the journey to convert them to a new life.

Second, thank you for you kind words about my conversion. Donna and I met driving Crowns many years ago. I remember in my early 20's looking at Crowns and dreaming with Donna about converting one to a motorhome. I even talked with the top Crown Coach salesman about what it might cost for a new one. He estimated over $100,000 for a new Crown customized as an RV. This was in 1977. Since I was making about $7.00 per hour at the time I thought that might be a little out of my reach. I now make substantially more than my bus driver salary of decades ago. And yet, my Crown Coach RV conversion in 2014 will cost me only a small fraction of what Crown wanted back in 1977. So, I feel that I am getting a great deal and having a blast doing it. My wife drove Crowns for years and bought many of them for her fleets when she was a transportation director. Our oldest daughter is a school bus driver and a state certified instructor and drives her 1986 Crown everyday and loves it. Crown Coaches are definitely part of the family tradition.

Hopefully, I have inspired you to either continue your conversion or to buy a used bus and join the madness! I am obviously partial to Crowns. They are built like tanks and were built to last many decades. Depending on where you are in the country, Crowns may or may not be readily available (West Coast and California have the most). If not a Crown, you want to get a bus from an area of the country where the road salts and humidity have not turned it into a bunch of rust. Western US buses seem to be in the best shape.

Donna and I are getting very anxious to have this conversion completed. It has taken much longer than we had planned. Since we have never done this before, we had many stops and starts. Plus, we early on decided to do a first class conversion. That meant doing a great deal of research to find out exactly what that meant. Which is the best generator? What size generator? Do we go portable or built in? The best AC/heater units for RV's and buses? Getting the bus up to mechanical A+ shape also took longer than we expected. Doing the research on how to insulate the bus without losing headroom took some time. Until we made key decisions other major tasks got put on hold.

I know Brown Crown has spent about eight or nine years on his conversion and just announced that he was finally finished. So, being at this for a year and getting anxious to get this done looks kind of silly given Brown Crown's eight year journey. I have over 170 school districts in California as clients of our transportation software company. I have promised just about every one of them that the bus will come by for a visit (it is going to be used primarily as a training computer lab and demo bus for our software). I was hoping to go up to Idaho to one of our clients and the Idaho Transportation Conference this Summer. Nope, bus wasn't ready. Now, I am hoping for the end of August.

Everyone on this site is more than willing to help fellow conversion nuts. So, feel free to browse, ask questions, and request advice and suggestions.

Again, thank you for your encouraging comments. It is nice to hear that people appreciate our efforts.
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Old 07-28-2014, 12:07 AM   #206
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Re: Journey Begins - 1988 Crown Conversion

HOT WATER HEATER PURCHASE
I did a great deal of research on the type and size of our water heater. We decided early on that this will be a propane free bus. No fireballs for us!!! So, we then looked at different types of electric water heaters. Results of our findings and of course our opinions can be found below. Other skoolie conversion nuts could have different ideas.

Tankless
We looked at tankless electric water heaters. The general conclusion from experts is that electric tankless water heaters are not ready for prime time. You can hope to get about a 20 degree difference between the water in your fresh holding tank or city water if you are hooked up. So, if the water coming into the tankless heater is 50 degrees (F), you will get in the low 70's at best for your "hot" shower. I admit, I am a wimp. I stopped taking cold showers at Boy Scout camp.

Electric Point of Use Heaters
These electric hot water heaters are small, usually 15 gallons or less. The better made ones have a great deal of insulation to help keep the water hot when the heater is off. The various websites I researched said that Rheem was the best hot water heater for RV's. You can get them with a capacity of 6 Gallons and up. I settled on the 15 gallon size. It is going in the bottom area of a large wardrobe cabinet and fits perfectly.

Prices for 15 gallon Rheem electric hot water heaters seemed very high. I saw prices as high as $750, with a low of about $650. I then did further research and discovered that Rheem also owns the Richmond brand of electric water heaters. In fact, the only difference between the two brands is their name badge on the tank. Otherwise, they are identical. See the two pictures below. Identical except for the name badge. The best price for Richmond was Home Depot. I picked it up online for $246 and that included free shipping to the house. So, with a little research, I saved between $400 and $500.

These brands are known for their extra insulation. However, I intend to place even more reflective insulation around the water heater to retain heat even longer.

Rheem Brand


Richmond Brand
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Old 07-28-2014, 09:11 AM   #207
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Re: Journey Begins - 1988 Crown Conversion

I love your flooring etc. We are hoping to take some of your ideas and use them in ours. The rubber flooring on the steps and drivers area will be great. Right now we are still removing grime. Wow! There is a lot.
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Old 08-01-2014, 05:34 PM   #208
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Re: Journey Begins - 1988 Crown Conversion

Thanks for your message, Greg. That's great that Crowns have been a long tradition in your family, and your daughter has taken a liking to them too. I hope to start the same tradition. Time will tell. I'm curious what your plans are for insulation in the sides of the bus. Is it even possible, considering the style of the windows?

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Wolfy
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Old 08-04-2014, 10:50 AM   #209
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Re: Journey Begins - 1988 Crown Conversion

I'm also interested in how much it cost to have the exterior of the bus painted (if you don't mind me asking).

Thanks again!

Wolfy
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Old 08-06-2014, 12:29 AM   #210
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Re: Journey Begins - 1988 Crown Conversion

Hi Wolfy,

The complete prep, body work, and paint job (including using high quality auto primer, paint and clear coat) was $7,200. There is one bus on this site that cost about $16,000 to have painted. So, I think I got a great deal. I bow to those on this site that do their own prep and painting on their buses. I recognize my limitations (in terms of mechanical skills, patience for all the prep work, and time). I thought $7,200 was a fair and decent price for an excellent paint job that will endure the test of time. The paint job cost more than the bus!!! Plus, once the conversion is done, I intend to store the bus in a large enclosed warehouse near my house to keep it out of the elements. So, the paint job will stay nice for even a longer period. This indoor facility has you call 24 hours in advance and they will start it up, check it out, and even wash it in preparation for your arrival. When you return, they will again clean and wash the bus and then park it in your stall inside the high ceiling warehouse.

You asked about insulation on the side. We have completed that already. We used the reflective core foam panels (about 1.5" total thickness), plus used the closed cell spray foam around all the joints, seams and edges. No cold or hot air getting in that way!! The wood side panels are about to be put in. We are putting a final layer of closed cell foam insulation (the kind sandwiched between aluminum) on the interior sides of the bus before putting the wood side panels up. This stuff comes in rolls and is used by race car builders and classic car enthusiasts. I picked up a roll at less than 50% of the normal price. I figure it can't hurt and there was just enough room to squeeze this stuff in between the side railings.

With all the insulation we have done in the roof, sides and flooring, it is absolutely amazing the difference in sound, noise and rattle. It is the most quiet Crown Coach bus I have ever ridden in. One of the things I have learned on this site is that doing it right early always pays off in the end. Insulation, insulation, insulation is the key. The techniques that I have used have not reduced the headroom while still providing a large amount of insulating properties. The real test will be when we take the bus out in really cold or hot weather. I don't expect to be in 110 degree weather for hours and expect the bus to stay a cool 72 degrees. I am hoping that I can keep the extreme cold and heat at bay for as long as possible and then allow the air conditioning or heating to keep it within an appropriate comfort range. One of the conversion guys on this site told me his experiences with his bus conversion (not enough insulation and under powered AC) and how on a hot day with the AC going, he still could not get his interior under the mid 90's. That is a wakeup call to try and pay close attention to your insulation projects and your heating and cooling needs.
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